Great Overlooks for Camping
Best View Camp Site in California
Overlook Camps, View Spot Camp Sites
This list is comprised of primitive camp sites and developed campgrounds with views overlooking a large area (valley, town, canyon, desert, river, ocean). Many ideal spots may require dirt road driving, and a few might need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to reach.
Prewitt Ridge, Big Sur Coast
This is by far the best, free coastal camping on the Central Coastline of Big Sur. Dirt roads traverse 10 miles out to vacant ridges overlooking the Pacific, with steep hills down to the highway. Camp above the fog layer and above the crowds. Explore the beaches during the day, and camp above the traffic & crowds at night.
Dry brush is abundant on the mountains of Los Padres National Forest. Camp fire restrictions should be of utmost concern in this area, since wildfires burn here often. Camp fire permits are required for camping on the back roads, and much of the time camp fires are banned in this region. Call ahead to the rangers to find out the current conditions.
Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
Big Sur Coastline
Two prime walk-in camp sites, on a shady point, high above a beach cove w/ scenic waterfall. Called “environmental camps” these highly desirable spots need advanced reservations w/ fees many months in advance. Tables, fire rings and a vault toilet. Bare bones basics, but the ideal location is worth it. A forested cliff on the edge of the ocean, high above a secluded cove. This location a can get windy if a storm moves in (generally October – March).
Los Padres National Forest
Kirk Creek Campground
on Highway 1 @ Nacimiento Rd
Big Sur CA
Willow Creek Road # 23S01
primitive camping on dirt road, above Hwy 1 @ Gorda, CA
Reyes Peak Camping
North of Ojai, CA
Pine Mountain Summit, CA Hwy 33
Off Cerro Noroeste Road, W of Pine Mountain, CA
Above Santa Maria, Highway 166
West of New Cuyama, CA
- Miranda Pines Campground @ 4100′ elev
Located well off hwy. on Road #32S13
San Bernardino National Forest
Toro Peak Campground
Angeles National Forest
San Bernardino National Forest
I-8 East of San Diego, CA
- Larkin Campground
McCain Valley BLM OHV
- Mar Tar Awa above Viejas Casino
- Sweetwater Summit Co Park San Diego
I-5 North of San Diego, CA
S-22 East San Diego County
Montezuma Grade, overlooking Borrego Springs & Anza Borrego Desert
- Culp Valley – boulders, primitive camps on dirt roads; better views off-road. No tables, no signs. Small campground at the highway is easy to find.
I-40 Mojave Desert
US Hwy 395 & surrounding areas
inside Death Valley National Park
- Mahogany Flat Campground steep dirt road access. Trailhead for tallest peak in the park, Telescope Peak (11,049′ elev)
- Tucki Mine, 4×4 route. Unmarked dirt road inside Emigrant Canyon, off Wildrose Road.
inside Inyo National Forest
- Coyote Flat @ Pinyon Boulders – 4×4 required, one primitive camp w/ great views overlooking the Owens Valley & peaks to the east.
- Onion Valley Campground – High Sierra @ 9200′ elevation. Trailhead to Kearsarge Pass. W of Independence, CA
Western Sierra Nevada Mts
Sierra National Forest
- White Bark Trailhead @ Kaiser Pass,
primitive camp site, pictured above. 4WD required @ Dusy Ershim Trail (OHV route). NE of Huntington Lake, CA
see also – NFS Fire Lookouts & Rental Cabins
many of which have excellent views of the wilderness areas; a hike or climb may be necessary
Colorado River Camping
Multiple riverside RV havens near Parker, AZ